A plan to add five homes to James Street, north of Bel Air's Vale Meadows, left many area residents perplexed at a development advisory committee meeting Wednesday.
James Street is a long cul-de-sac off of Rock Spring Road, tucked under the on-ramp to Route 924 from Bel Air Bypass.
It is also one of the few sections in the area that has not been developed, as most of the land there is "inundated" with forest retention, wetlands and natural resource districts, Mitch Ensor, of Bay State Land Services, said at the meeting.
"The only high and dry piece of the land left is on the terminus of James Street," he said.
The owner, identified as Hopkins Property LLC, wants to extend James Street south to build five single-family homes at its bottom tip, on 11.53 acres.
Don McLean, speaking for the fire department, said he had not seen this layout before and was not prepared to respond.
"This configuration is new to me," he said. "I see no way fire and ambulance service can properly serve these people."
Ensor offered to explain the plan to him and said the proposed extension of James Street would allow emergency vehicles to get through.
A handful of residents objected to the proposal, saying the road is too narrow as it is and they do not want to see another failed project in their area, as a different project planned for the opposite end of James Street has long sat idle.
Some said a school bus cannot even drive on James Street and it is hard for two vehicles to pass each other.
Ben Wible, also of James Street, said he just moved there in May and was told at the time the county did not have any new developments planned.
"One of the most desirable aspects of this community is it's private and secluded. If there were development, I could see maybe a cul-de-sac with maybe three houses to allow school bus to access the community, trash trucks come in," he said. "I just really don't see the value of the development at this time."
Patricia Martin, of Steed Lane in Vale Meadows, said her property backs up to the area that would be developed.
"I wouldn't want to see them come in with bulldozers and just clear-cut the place," she said. "We were under the impression that there are wetlands back there and they would need to be protected. Whenever they develop Vale Meadows, there's no way they're ever getting an ambulance or fire truck down there."
Other projects reviewed at the DAC meeting, with no public comments, were:
- A plan to convert a residence at 3714 Woodsdale Road in Abingdon to a personal care boarding home.
- A plan to build a 12,480-square-foot Dollar General store at Joppa Station, at Route 40 and Joppa Road.
- A plan to build an 8,553-square-foot Firestone auto care building at Hickory Crossing on Route 23. The building would have 10 service bay doors and 35 parking spaces.
- A plan to build a 7,200-square-foot auto repair shop on 5.14 acres on Dooley Road, west of Pylesville Road.